What Trump Says – And What He Means

The name “E. Jean Carroll” came and went from the headlines.  But I think her story – and the larger story – are worth remembering.

In late June she was suddenly all over the news:

E. Jean Carroll
E. Jean Carroll

E. Jean Carroll.

I’d never heard of her, though she’s written several books and says, “I write the ‘Ask E. Jean’ column in ELLE magazine.  It is – astonishingly – the longest, currently-running advice column in American publishing.”

But Carroll wasn’t suddenly newsworthy for her column or books, at least, not directly.

It was because she claimed she’d been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump.

Carroll had added her name to the list of women who have accused Trump of sexual assault or unwanted advances.

The length of that list varies, depending on whom you’re reading:  “more than a dozen,” “at least 15,” “19,” and some articles named Carroll as #24:

Business Insider (2)

Trump, of course, has denied all the women’s accusations, including Carroll’s.

But it’s not Carroll’s claim or Trump denying it that still confounds me.

It’s what Trump said:

“Number one, she’s not my type.”

jessica cropped
Jessica Leeds

So, what was he saying?  If Carroll was his “type,” he would have assaulted her?

That he assaults only women who are his “type”?

The Carroll situation was not the first time Trump disparaged the appearance of an accuser.

In 2016, Jessica Leeds claims Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt during a flight to New York in the early 1980s.

Trump’s response:  “Believe me, she would not be my first choice.”

Natasha cropped
Natasha Stoynoff

Also in 2016, Natasha Stoynoff, a former writer at People, said that in 2005, Trump shut the door after they walked into a room together, and “within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.”

Trump’s response:  “Look at her,” he told a cheering crowd at an October 2016 rally.  “You tell me what you think.  I don’t think so.  I don’t think so.”

“Not my type.”  “Not my first choice.”  “Look at her.”

What, I wondered, is going on with the “She’s not attractive enough to assault” statements?

And, I wondered, will the media pick up on this heinous statement?

The media did:

USA Today (2)

From this article:

The “too ugly to rape” defense is one many perpetrators use to undermine victims, and sexual-assault experts say it feeds into the public’s misunderstanding of how sexual violence works.

“We see that babies to women in their 90s are raped,” said Sarah Cook, associate dean at Georgia State University Honors College, a nationally recognized expert on violence against women and a survivor of sexual assault.  “Rape isn’t about sexual attraction.  Rape is about the expression of power through sexual behavior.”

And:

Sexual assault is never about a woman’s beauty, experts say, but is a unique form of control used to shame, demean and defile victims.  And it can happen to anyone, regardless of their appearance, age or what they’re wearing.

“There are so many different portrayals of rape in our society, and many of them feed our stereotypes that rape is about sexual attraction, that you have to be absolutely beautiful, stunning, to be raped,” said Karen Weiss, a sociology professor at West Virginia University and an expert on sexual victimization.  “But the reality is, all of us are vulnerable.”

Think Progress (2)

From this article:

By claiming he isn’t attracted to these women, Trump represents sexual assault as driven solely by desire for another person rather than what it really is:  a violent action driven as much as by a need to exert power as any kind of attraction.  Referring to attractiveness reframes an assault and puts it in the same language we use to talk about consensual romantic and sexual encounters.

By discussing her attractiveness, Trump also shifts attention from what we should be talking about:  whether or not he sexually assaulted Carroll in the 1990s.  Now, he has shifted the conversation to focus on an assessment of the alleged victim’s appearance and whether she was “attractive enough” to be chosen as his victim.  Sexual assault becomes a compliment bestowed only on attractive women, and Trump is able to further objectify women as he denies the sexual assault allegations.

Vox (2) Fixed

From this article:

In working with sexual offenders, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that sexual desire isn’t the motivator for sexual violence.  “Although sexuality and aggression are involved in all forms of sexual violence, sex is merely the medium used to express various types of non-sexual feelings such as anger and hostility towards women, as well as a need to control, dominate and assert power over them,” according to WHO.  “It is rather a violent, aggressive and hostile act used as a means to degrade, dominate, humiliate, terrorize and control women.  The hostility, aggression and/or sadism displayed by the perpetrator are intended to threaten the victim’s sense of self.”

In that sense, turning around and calling the accuser unattractive is another attempt to humiliate her.

Atlantic (2)

From this article:

There is, as always, a certain clarity to Trump’s cruelty.  The president seems to understand, on some level, something profoundly true about the creaking mechanics of misogyny:  Sexual abuse is not, ultimately, about sexual attraction.  It is about power.  It is about one person’s exertion of will over another.  In this way, “She’s not my type” is deeply entangled with the president’s long-standing habit of dismissing unruly women through his negative assessments of their attractiveness:  the women as the sexual commodities, Donald Trump as the discerning consumer.

It’s not just with accusers that Trump lets loose his fusillade of insults:

NY Times (2)

These New York Times writers compiled what I know was only a short list of women Trump “has attacked by demeaning their looks, mocking their bodily functions or comparing them to animals.”

Carly_Fiorina_CPAC_2017
Carly Fiorina

Here’s just a sampling of Trumps comments:

Carly Fiorina, 2016 Republican presidential candidate:  “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

Katarina Witt, a German Olympic figure skater, would be considered attractive only “if you like a woman with a bad complexion who is built like a linebacker.”

Omarosa Manigault Newman, former aide and author of a tell-all book, Unhinged:   Trump called her “that dog” and a “crazed, crying lowlife.”

omarosa cropped
Omarosa Manigault Newman

Megyn Kelly, then a Fox News journalist, after moderating a Republican debate in 2015:  “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

Cher, in 2012, over her criticism of Republican candidates running for office:  She should “stop with the bad plastic surgery and nasty statements.”

Kim Novak, actress, while Trump was watching the 2014 Oscars:  “The last song was terrible!  Kim should sue her plastic surgeon!”

So Carroll has lots of company.

E. Jean Carroll flashed across our awareness like Halley’s Comet, but she won’t have the comet’s staying power.

She’ll be replaced by the next woman who publicly claims sexual harassment or sexual assault by Trump.

Trump will deny her claim and denigrate her.

And her name will be added to the list as #16 or #20 or #25.

Nothing will change.

Unless we change it:

election

Book Review:  “The Five” Weren’t What We Think

Publication date:  April 2019Book

Review, short version:  Four roses out of four.

Review, long version:

If you’ve heard of Jack the Ripper, you probably heard a version like this:

“Jack the Ripper killed a bunch of prostitutes, he cut their throats and cut their guts open, and he was never caught.”

This is the story that began and then evolved about the murders of five women in London between August 31, 1888 and November 9, 1888.

That the murders were gruesome is true.

That the murderer or murderers were never caught is true.

headline 2
Newspapers didn’t use “prostitute” in their headlines, but that label was clear in the articles.

That all five women were prostitutes…

Was not.

So how did the “prostitutes” label – a fixture in the Ripper story – come about?

That’s the question Hallie Rubenhold answers in her book, The Five:  The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper.

This is not – I emphasize – not a book about Jack the Ripper.  There are already hundreds of those.  Nor is it written by one of the countless “experts” with their theories, or one of the conspiracy theorists with theirs, known as “Ripperologists.”

annie and john chapman circa 1869
Victim Annie Chapman with her husband, John; they married in 1869, and were the parents of a son and two daughters.

In addition to the books there are close to 50 documentaries, feature films, or films with Ripper-style murders.

And there’s a Jack the Ripper Museum in London, where you can tour exhibits, and take a guided walk “in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper and his victims.”

Unless you’re looking for gore, The Five is a better choice.

Rubenhold has no interest in discovering the Ripper’s identity; her interest is in his five victims – their backgrounds, their circumstances, and why they had the misfortune of living in the Whitechapel district of London’s East End where they encountered a killer.

And what they had in common:  Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elisabeth Stride, Kate Eddowes and Mary Kelly were “throwaway women.”  They were poor, they lived in slums, and four of the five were considered old – in their mid-40s.

Jack-the-Ripper-1
When a victim was discovered, the newspapers weren’t present so they relied on their imaginations rather than reality.

Sometimes they were homeless, and sometimes they slept “rough,” that is, on the streets.

All of that made it easy to call them “prostitutes,” and once that happened, the label stuck.  They were “fallen” women, probably leading disgusting, impoverished and drunken lives and therefore, they mattered less.

The focus of the newspaper stories changed from the tragedy of the murders to the grisly way the women were killed, the inability of the police to catch the killer, and the worry:  You could be next.

And all five were also victims of that sensationalist press.  The goal of newspapers was to sell newspapers, not to tell the victims’ stories.  When the facts weren’t enough, they printed rumors, speculation, and outright misinformation that “took root in the public consciousness as readily as it does today,” says the author.

And today, it’s sadly easy to find the “prostitutes” label still used as a fact:

Prostitute 1 (2)

Prostitutes 2 (2)

Wiki (2) with underline

But Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Kate and Mary were much more than their deaths, and Rubenhold shows us why.

And in her Introduction, Rubenhold tells us why she wrote The Five:

I do so in the hope that we may now hear their stories clearly and give back to them that which was so brutally taken away with their lives:  their dignity.

Rubenhold doesn’t go into the horrific way in these five women died, and neither will I.

Instead, she speaks to their whole history, how their stories evolved the way they did, and suggests that this marginalizing of women back then…

Is not so different from today.

grave nichols larger grave chapman cropped grave stride fixed
grave eddows grave kelly_01 The throwaway women:  May they rest in peace.

A Tale Of Two Trains

The Real Train in Real Trouble

There’s a 351-mile stretch of train tracks between Los Angeles and San Diego called the LOSSAN Corridor:

lossanmap_02 larger.png

It’s the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the United States, and also carries tons of freight, from corn to cars, both locally, and – by connecting with other trains – across the U.S.

LOSSAN is used by:

  1. COASTER, a local commuter rail operated by North County Transit District (NCTD).
  2. Pacific Surfliner, operated by Amtrak.
  3. Metrolink, a commuter rail operated by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority.
  4. BNSF for freight.
  5. PACSUN for freight.

These are very busy train tracks.

And they’re in very big trouble.

About 20 miles north of San Diego there’s a 1.7-mile stretch of LOSSAN Corridor tracks on the Del Mar bluffs, and by that I mean right on the bluffs, right along the Pacific Coast:

track on bluff no train_01

The Del Mar bluffs are collapsing into the Pacific Ocean.

And one of these days, they might take a train with them.

The Bullet Train Boondoggle

There’s another train track – sort of – that’s being built – sort of – that’s supposed to run between Northern California, Southern California, and the Central Valley.

This is the California High-Speed Rail, and it’s going nowhere to anywhere, anytime soon:

bullet train croppped

Also known as the “bullet train,” “the train to nowhere” and “California’s boondoggle,” it mostly exists in an artist’s imagination (image above) or in this state of incompletion:

bullet train structure_02

In 2008 about $9.95 billion in bond seed money for the bullet train was approved by California voters, with an estimated total cost of about $39 billion, and the first phase of passenger service beginning in 2017.

The project has now been scaled way back, with a price tag grown to $77 billion, and the first phase of passenger service beginning maybe in 2033.

Let’s compare what we’re spending – and what we’re getting.

Since 2008 – in 11 years – we’ve spent about $6 billion on the train to nowhere.

Since 1998 – in 21 years – we’ve spent just $14.1 million trying to shore up the Del Mar bluffs.

Here’s how that looks in comparison:

Pie Chart (2).jpg

Why the comparison?

Because the need to implement a permanent solution for the Del Mar bluffs – and the train tracks on them – is immediate.

While the bullet train that we keep throwing money at – well, this headline from the Los Angeles Times said it best:

LA Times Headline (2)

That tiny stretch of train tracks on the Del Mar bluffs – just 1.7 miles out of 351 – is critical for so many reasons, the first of which is:

Passenger Safety:  I was not speaking lightly earlier when I said the bluffs could collapse, taking a train with them.  Just the COASTER passenger trains carry 4,900 people along the Del Mar bluffs each weekday.  Now add in Metrolink and Surfliner passengers.  Add cargo trains, and about 50 trains total travel that stretch of dangerous track every day.

Here’s a partial list of other effects of the Del Mar bluffs failing, bringing train service to a stop:

Freeway Congestion:  As many as 2,500 more passenger cars, another 122 buses, and antraffic jam_01 additional 600 semi-trucks would travel the already crowded Interstate 5 daily without the coastal rail route.  Think more vehicle crashes.  Think egregiously longer commutes.  Think greenhouse gas emissions.

Increased Costs to Consumers:  Shippers of all types of materials on the San Diego segment of the LOSSAN rail corridor together would pay an additional $604,812 per day, or $221 million in a year, to move those things by truck – and pass that on to consumers.

Car Sales:  One in every 10 new imported automobiles sold in the U.S. arrives by ship at the Port of San Diego and then heads north by rail.  In 2018 about 400,000 vehicles, mostly from major Japanese and Korean manufacturers, were unloaded at the National cars on trainCity Marine Terminal.  If these vehicles don’t travel by train, the shipping cost will increase – and be passed on to consumers.

Regional Telecommunications:  A large bluff collapse could disrupt regional telecommunications, which provide information vital to NCTD to continue running commuter rail services and support interstate commerce.

Military Response:  The rail corridor is part of the Defense Department’s Strategic Rail Corridor Network, which requires that it be available to move troops and equipment during a national emergency.

What are our priorities?  Continuing to waste money on the bullet train – a good idea gone bad – or allocating more money to fix the Del Mar bluffs danger zone?

OK:  Why are the Del Mar bluffs such a danger zone?

The bluffs are sandstone, a porous material, subject to rain, ground water, breaking waves, wind, storms and earthquakes, as well as animals that live in, and people that walk on, the bluffs:

unstable bluffs

And due to climate change, the ocean level is rising, eating away at more of that sandstone.

Why is the need immediate?

Bluff collapses increased significantly last August after a year of relative quiet.  Slides were reported August 22, September 27, and October. 5.

Then, on December 10, a 30-foot-wide chunk sloughed off:

bluff collapse december 2018

Erosion took another big chunk February 2, and then on February 15, one of the biggest collapses occurred when a 55-foot-wide section peeled away in pieces:

bluff collapse february 2019

I’ve ridden the COASTER along the Del Mar bluffs many times, and each time I’ve had two simultaneous thoughts:

“What an amazing view!”Bluffs_01.jpg

“What if this bluff collapsed?”

Now, after all the recent collapses, I’ll think twice before riding the COASTER again.

Until I started my research, I didn’t know how dangerous the Del Mar bluffs are.

Or how far-reaching, expensive, and damn inconvenient a long-term rail shutdown could be.

Now I know.

But our governor and legislators have known this for a long time.

And the politicians have just inched along, allocating the Del Mar bluffs a few million here and a few million there:

  • Three rounds of bluff stabilization projects have been completed at Del Mar since pennies1998 at a total cost of about $5 million, according to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
  • The next phase of construction is expected to cost $3 million. It’s been funded and is scheduled to start in fall 2019.
  • State Senator Toni Atkins announced in June 2019 the latest allocation of $6.1 million for bluff stabilization.

As for other money?

Last December a media outlet reported that, “The North County Transit District is hoping to hear this month about an $18 million federal grant that would help stabilize crumbling bluffs next to the railway line through Del Mar.”

I’ll remind NCTD of this:

hope-is-not-a-strategy-cropped

They did not get the $18 million federal grant.

But we taxpayers were forced to keep throwing money at the bullet train to nowhere.

Now, you could ask – logically – why not just move the tracks?

And there is discussion about that.

There is much discussion about that.

In fact, five possible routes for moving the train tracks off the Del Mar bluffs have been outlined by regional transportation officials.

Four of the ideas involve twin sets of tracks in tunnels drilled or bored through the ground as deep as 270 feet beneath the surface and up to a mile or more inland.  The fifth alternative is a deep trench that follows Highway 101, below the roadway through the center of town:

Five Options (2)

Cost?

To reroute about five miles of the track:  Between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion.

And State Senator Toni Atkins is excited about $6 million?

toni_01 cropped
Memo to State Senator Toni Atkins:  Get serious, and get some big bucks for the Del Mar bluffs.

Let’s recap:

So far we’ve spent $14.1 million in 21 years stabilizing the Del Mar bluffs.

Versus $6 billion spent in 11 years on the bullet train to nowhere.

According to SANDAG, protecting the bluff-top route over the next 30 years may cost an additional $90 million in today’s dollars.

Moving the tracks off the bluff:  Several billion.

It’s time – way past time – to implement a permanent solution for the Del Mar bluff train tracks and save the real trains that are in real trouble.

And to stop wasting money on the High-Speed Rail bullet train to nowhere…

Boondoggle (2)

“…nearly all the promises made to voters have gone unfilled as costs have exploded because of overruns and multiple management failings at the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority.

“This boondoggle is a massive blend of incompetence and dishonesty.  Californians wanted a bullet train.  It’s never been clearer it’s going nowhere fast.”

– San Diego Union-Tribune editorial, August 2, 2019

You’re Seeing It Here First!

In an unprecedented move by a president known for doing the unprecedented, on Thursday after awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to basketball legend Bob Cousy, Trump later also awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom to himself.

The White House statement issued late Thursday evening said in part,

Due to his extraordinarily numerous accomplishments over the past week – more than any president in the history of our country – Trump, who is known for his deep introspection, had impartially reviewed his recent news coverage and, filled with warm fuzzies, decided that he was a most worthy recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

TRUMP at AMVETS_01“When it comes to all things presidential,” Trump said, “who knows better than Your  Favorite President?

“I was in Kentucky on Tuesday – or was it Wednesday – anyway, talking to a bunch of vets.  Lexington, I think.  Or was it Louisville?  Anyway, they love me in Kentucky, we won Kentucky by – well, it was bigger than Abraham Lincoln’s numbers, let me tell you.

“And the best Senate Majority Leader in history was born there, you know who I’m talking about, that’s right, Mitch McConnell.  And he’s up for re-election next year, and if any of you Jews don’t vote for him, you’re disloyal to our country.

“And the people at the vet thing – the crowd was enormous.  Bigger than my inauguration crowd, and you know that was a record breaker.  But that’s what we do, trump_04 croppedwe break records and Make America Great Again and to hell with Greenland and their nasty prime minister.

“Maybe I’ll buy Taiwan instead of Greenland.  Who owns Taiwan – Japan?

“So I’m saying to these vets – do you know how much vets love me?  There was also  this huge crowd outside the hall and people were, like, climbing over each other, trying to get in.

“And the fake news won’t tell you that – because they’re too busy trying to create a recession.  Fake news, fake recession.  Our economy is terrific.  Great growth potential.

“So I said to the guys – well, there were some women there, I guess.  Are there women veterans?  Anyway, one of the guys, I think his name was…it doesn’t matter, he’d gotten the Medal of Honor.

“And I had another one of my brilliant ideas – I am brilliant, you know.  In fact, I’m a genius.  A very stable genius.

“So I said, ‘I wanted one, but they told me I don’t qualify, Woody.’  I said, ‘Can I give it to myself anyway?’

“Because if I hadn’t had those bone spur things in my left heel – or was it both heels?  The doctor – great guy, really talented, very smart, we had a lot in common – he said, Trump (1) larger‘Mr. Trump, I know you’re anxious to serve our country and go to Vietnam’ – and I was, I was ready to go and fight.  Nobody was more ready than I was.  But the doctor said, ‘No, you have bone spurs.’  So I wasn’t able to enlist.

“But if I had – Medal of Honor.  No doubt.  Absolutely none.  Ever.  Never.  None.  Maybe two.

“So that got me thinking about medals and I remembered – Medal of Freedom!

“I was already in a giving mood, after giving the medal to that Cousy guy, so the timing was great.  Best timing ever, really.

“And tonight I awarded it to myself.

“Not in secret, though, no matter what the fake news is saying.  There was a big crowd there, it would have been bigger than my inauguration but it was inside.

“I’m telling you, I really am the Chosen One.”

Republican National Convention: Day Four

Rant:  Abby, You Dogged It

Dear Abby:

So often your advice is so right on, but your recent response to “New England Nana” compels me to take you to task – you dogged it with the answer.

First, her letter:

Dear Abby:

Here’s a fun suggestion for grandmothers who are upset about teens not writing thank-you notes.  If you want to hear from a teen, try this:

Send a card and write inside, “Happy Birthday!  Please buy something fun or something you need with the enclosed check.  Love you, Grandma.”

THEN FORGET TO ENCLOSE THE CHECK.

You will hear from that teen, I promise.

“New England Nana”

dear abby
Abby:  You’re wrong.

Your response:

Dear Nana:

You are a shrewd and witty lady.  I’m sure my readers will love that suggestion.  I know I did!

Abby, you and “Nana” are wrong, wrong, wrong.

Because what “Nana” is suggesting – and what you’re condoning – is a scenario in which sure, Grandma will hear from the teen.

But only because she forgot to enclose the check:

teen bored croppedGrandma (answering phone):  Hello?
Teen (bored):  Grandma, you forgot my check.
Grandma:  Why, honey, how nice of you to call!
Teen:  Just do a direct deposit in my checking account, OK?  Bye.

And what has the ungrateful teen learned at this point?  Only that Grandma is getting forgetful.

The teen has learned nothing about good manners, specifically, that every gift should be acknowledged, every time, with a note, preferably handwritten, but typed is OK.  Or at the very least, via email, if Grandma is Internet savvy.

I’m especially disappointed with your response, Abby, because you are such a proponent of thank-you notes.  In fact, you’ve used your column on numerous occasions to commiserate with people who bemoan the relatives and friends who don’t send them:

“When a gift or a check isn’t acknowledged, the (unwritten) message it sends is that the item wasn’t appreciated, which is insulting and hurtful.”

grandma_01
Poor Grandma, waiting and watching for the mailman and that thank-you note that never arrives.

You go on to say,

“Chief among the reasons that thank-you notes are unwritten is that many people don’t know what to say.  They think the message has to be long and flowery when, in fact, keeping it short and to the point is more effective.”

But this lack, you say, can be remedied for just $7 (U.S. funds, check or money order) for booklet_02 croppedyour booklet, “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” which:

“Contains samples of thank-you letters for birthday gifts, shower gifts and wedding gifts, as well as those that arrive around holiday time…With the holiday season approaching, this is the perfect time to reply with a handwritten letter, note or well-written email.”

You concluded that column with,

“Because the composition of letters is not always effectively taught in the schools, my booklet can serve as a helpful tutorial, one that is valuable for parents as a way to teach their children to write using proper etiquette.”

Now, this last presupposes that the parents are, in fact, teaching their children proper etiquette.

Which begs the question, did “Nana” teach her son or daughter to write thank-you notes?  If not, then she can hardly expect him or her to teach her grandchildren, can she?

Abby, your solution of making thank-you notes easy by offering templates for them is one option.stop smaller

Here’s mine:

Stop sending the ingrates gifts.

To “Nana” and all the others who lovingly shop for, wrap and give gifts; shop for cards and lovingly enclose checks; and then wait, while days and then weeks pass, for an acknowledgement that never comes…stop

Just stop.

If that ungrateful teen or other relative, friend, or whomever, didn’t acknowledge your last gift, accept that they aren’t going to change their behavior, but you can change yours.

And by continuing to give gifts, you’re actually reinforcing their bad behavior.

Do them, and yourself, a favor:stop

Just stop.

And if they wonder why good ole Grandma wasn’t good for a graduation gift…

Let ’em wonder.

grandma finger cropped

Michele et ce restaurant sont-ils prétentieux? Mais Oui!

The San Diego Union-Tribune has a restaurant reviewer, Michele Parente – hence, the title.

As for the prétentieux – pretentious – stay with me.

But first, let’s start with a very brief history of the hallowed Michelin restaurant rating system.

The Michelin rating system began in the Michelin Guide, which goes back more than a century.  The French Michelin brothers, Ándre and Édouard, had started a tire company in 1889, and in 1900 they realized that that a ratings guide for hotels and restaurants would encourage the drivers to travel, wear out their tires, and buy more of them:

Guide, first cropped
1900:  Michelin’s first guide.

The guide cataloged hotels, restaurants, mechanics, and gasoline vendors throughout France, and the brothers began sending inspectors – anonymously – to various restaurants, who dined and then rated the establishments with a one-to-three-star system:

Michelin cropped.png

Michelin went international, and those stars became – and remain – highly coveted by chefs from across the globe.  One star will pack a restaurant.  Two stars – you’ll wait six months for a reservation.  And three stars?  The Restaurant Hall of Fame.

And while no chef as yet has committed murder for a star, I betting that’s been contemplated by many.

So in June, when Addison became the first – and only – restaurant San Diego county to earn a Michelin star, it was une grosse affaire (a big deal).

Big enough to prompt reviewer Michele to revisit and, I guess, re-review it.

addison 1 cropped
At Addison, use your pen to connect all the dots!

Now, I like to eat, and I enjoy going out to eat, so it follows that I enjoy reading restaurant reviews.

If my mouth is watering by the end of the review – better yet, half-way through the review – that restaurant is in my future.

Addison is not.

Usually, after reading a restaurant review, my first step is to visit their website to check out the full menu.

But Addison’s website has nothing so bourgeoisie as a “Menu” link.

Instead, I had to click on Experience, which led me here:

Experience scan0002 (2)

Ethos?  Grandeur?  Are you beginning to see why I’m thinking pretentious?

Then I clicked on “contemporary haute cuisine” (“haute” being French for “high-class”), and here were my choices:

Menu scan0002 (2) fixed

First:  “Découverte”?  What the hell is that?

Second:  Choices?  Two.  I can taste five things for $165, or taste 10 things for $265.

Addison 2
Is this the “whipped yogurt fouetté with green tea and yuzu granité” or the “olive oil crème glacée with the fruits de la terre”?  Who knows?

Taste, which is the haute way of saying, “Each portion is the size of a quarter.”

Pretentious?  I’m thinking so.

But I was already thinking that as I read Michele’s review.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Whipped yogurt fouetté with green tea and yuzu granité, olive oil crème glacée with the fruits de la terre.”

Was my mouth watering?

No.

But my brain was spinning, trying to figure out what the hell it was.

Pretentious is what it was.

And this:

“The smoked salmon rillettes pirouette.”

OK, I get “smoked salmon.”  I checked the dictionary for “rillettes” and that’s something you can spread on toast (if toast is included in that $265).  But “pirouette”?  Isn’t that a ballet move?

Addison 4 cropped
This will amuse your bouche, no doubt.

So this is dancing salmon paste?

And this:

“The cheeky interlude of potato chips with onion dip.”

I’ve eaten plenty of potato chips and not once have I encountered a chip I’d consider “cheeky.”

And finally:

“Warm amuse bouche gougère, with sea salt and sherry crémeux, is meant to be eaten in a single bite.”

Note to Michelle:  Each thing on a plate is only a single bite.

addison 5
One bite:  $26.50.

That’s why they call it a tasting menu.

At $26.50 a bite, for 10 bites.  If your dining companion orders the same, figure $530 plus tax ($40.07) and tip (15% is $79.50):

$649.57.

Michele said it’s a meal “you’ll likely remember the rest of your life.”

Yeah – because you’ll likely be paying for it the rest of your life.

According to Michele’s review, at Addison the waitperson will place the napkin on my lap with tweezers.   Perhaps they think that will distract me from the cost-per-bite thing?

It didn’t.

But the dress code did:

Dress Code (2)

Oh, yeah.  My look is always soignée.  I’m known for my soignée-ness.

man
I do hope your waiter has different tweezers for restaurant use.

One last jab at Michele, and then I’m done.

Michele did allow how some might find the tweezers-napkin thing “a tad precious.”

“Precious” in this instance meaning “affectedly concerned with elegant or refined behavior, language, or manners.”

I’d describe the whole review – and the restaurant – as more than a “tad.”  How about…

Precious (2)

There’s an old joke about eating Chinese food and being hungry an hour later.

After having the Experience at Addison and their measly 10-bite dinner, you, too, will be hungry an hour later.

You’ll also be…

empty pockets cropped

Jeffrey Epstein Is…

The Jeffrey Epstein “apparent suicide” story wasn’t in the news for 24 hours – hell, it probably wasn’t even a half an hour – when conspiracy theories began appearing on the Internet.

Then conspiracy interest exploded because Trump retweeted one.

Condemnation for Trump’s action was immediate, and widespread:

Atlantic (2)

And while we were all agog at Trump’s action, we were distracted from something very obvious:

The possibility that Epstein isn’t dead.

I believe he is not.

My first thought, when I heard Epstein was dead, was “No, he isn’t.  Epstein cut a deal with people in high places, and he was spirited away somewhere safe because he knows too much about too many men, and he has the photos and videos to prove it.”

Let’s put the puzzle together, piece by piece.

#1.  Our government is very good at making people disappear.  It’s called the Witness Protection Program, or WITSEC.  According to usmarshals.gov/witsec/:

The U.S. Marshals have protected, relocated and given new identities to more than 8,600 witnesses and 9,900 of their family members, since the program began in 1971.

Witnesses and their families typically get new identities with authentic Seal_of_the_United_States_Marshals_Service.svgdocumentation.  Housing, subsistence for basic living expenses and medical care are provided to the witnesses.  Job training and employment assistance may also be provided.

No Witness Security Program participant, following program guidelines, has been harmed or killed while under the active protection of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The government doesn’t have to use Epstein as a witness.  They just give him a new identity, park him on some obscure tropical island like Ko Lipe or Aitutaki, and no one’s the wiser.

Epstein was already in a federal prison – how hard could it have been for the Feds to spirit him away?

#2.  First there was an “alleged suicide attempt,” to set up the “real” deal.  Epstein was in the MCC (Metropolitan Correctional Center).  On July 23, “Epstein had been found semiconscious in his cell with marks on his neck – though it was not clear if he had tried to harm himself or had been attacked,” according to New York’s Magazine’s Intelligencer.

What happened that day is still not clear.

Epstein was placed in a special cell on suicide watch.  But on July 29, for reasons that are also not clear as of today, he was taken off suicide watch and returned to the MCC special Epstein_02 croppedhousing unit.

“Typically,” said Intelligencer, “that should have only happened if the prison’s chief psychologist approved the change after evaluating the inmate and justifying why they are no longer at risk of harming themselves.”

As to why Epstein was taken off suicide watch, there was this in the August 12 The Hill:

“Defense attorneys pushed for Jeffrey Epstein to be taken off suicide watch ahead of his death on Saturday, an unidentified source told ABC News.”

And this, from the August 12 Washington Examiner:

“Epstein’s lawyers requested that Epstein be taken off suicide watch, which requires around-the-clock surveillance of an inmate, in late July, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Did his lawyers request this?

I anticipate much finger pointing in the coming days.

#3.  Who oh-so-quickly named Epstein’s “death” an “apparent suicide”?  According to the Washington Post, “The Bureau of Prisons and Attorney General William P. Barr called the death an ‘apparent suicide’” after Epstein was pronounced dead at the hospital where he’d been taken on August 10.

If that was Epstein’s body.

Why was Barr, in particular, in such a rush to pronounce this an “apparent suicide”?

And why has Barr inserted himself into this?

He’s making all sorts of public pronouncements, and a lot of noise about being “appalled” and “angry” and “demanding” an investigation, and that’s what is happening – there are now two investigations into Epstein’s death, one by the FBI and another by the inspector general.

The FBI has more than 35,000 employees.  Why doesn’t Barr just back off and let the FBI do its job?

Because he’s Trump’s boy, and he does whatever Trump tells him to do.

Seal_of_the_Federal_Bureau_of_Prisons.svgAnd – sadly – is the FBI doing what Barr tells them to do?  Is this another Trump trumped-up favorite:  a “national emergency” but this time, a secret?

One last note about Barr.  Barr is the head of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is part of Barr’s DOJ.

#4.  Epstein rolled with high rollers – and according to at least one of his alleged victims, he has videos and photos.  Since before Epstein’s arrest, among the names that have been connected to him are Trump, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and attorney Alan Dershowitz.  After the release of new documents on July 8, the list grew to include hedge fund billionaire Glenn Dubin; former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson; former Democratic Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell; the late MIT computer scientist Marvin Minsky; and MC2 model agency cofounder Jean Luc Brunel.

In a 2015 article The Guardian reported that Virginia Roberts,

“The woman who alleges that she was made to have sex with Prince Andrew whenImage: she was 17 has told a court she believes U.S. authorities hold video footage of her having underage sex with powerful associates of Andrew’s friend Jeffrey Epstein.

“Roberts went on in her affidavit on Friday to allege that authorities already hold evidence ‘that will support what I have been saying about Epstein and his associates,’ including the video and photographic material.  She said she did not understand why no action had been taken.”

If “U.S. authorities hold video footage,” why haven’t they made it public?  I believe “video and photographic material” exists, but I think it’s in Epstein’s hands, not U.S. authorities.

It wasn’t just Virginia Roberts whom Epstein kept a record of; according to the July 8, 2019 New York Times:

“Prosecutors said they seized hundreds, and possibly thousands, of ‘sexually suggestive’ pictures of nude or partially nude young women and girls during a search of Mr. Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse on Saturday, conducted at roughly the same time the financier was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.

“The cache of photos, some of which were discovered in a locked safe that also contained CDs with labels like ‘Girl pics nude,’ demonstrate the predatory attitude that Mr. Epstein continues to have toward young women, prosecutors said.”

Clearly, Epstein was a man who liked to keep records.

#5.  Epstein was rich, but not from “hedge-fund management.”  The media often label Epstein as “billionaire hedge-fund manager,” but it’s easy to find plenty of information online that contradicts this:

From the July 11, 2019 New York Magazine Intelligencer:

Epstein_03 cropped“For decades, Epstein has been credulously described as a big-time hedge-fund manager and a billionaire, even though there’s not a lot of evidence that he is either.”

“…the hedge-fund managers we spoke to leaned toward the theory that Epstein was running a blackmail scheme under the cover of a hedge fund.”

“The fact that Epstein’s fund is offshore in a tax haven – it is based in the U.S. Virgin Islands – and has a secret client list both add credence to the blackmail theory.”

From Fortune, July 8, 2019:

(In a 2002 New York Magazine profile), “Epstein is described as someone who’s successes and failures weren’t played out in public.  ‘Epstein breaks the mold,’ the magazine wrote.  ‘Most everyone on the Street has heard of him, but nobody seems to know what the hell he is up to.  Which is just the way he likes it.’”

“That has been the motif of Jeffrey Epstein’s last 16 years,’” said Ward [Vicky Ward, a journalist who wrote a 2003 Vanity Fair story].  “He’s been untouchable, given a free pass by the very rich people, the very powerful people with whom he socializes and perhaps over whom he has leverage.’”

From Forbes, also on July 8, 2019:

“Forbes, however, has never included Epstein, 66, in its rankings of the World’s Billionaires, since there is scant proof he holds a ten-figure fortune.  As we wrote in 2010, ‘The source of his wealth – a money management firm in the U.S. Virgin Islands – generates no public records, nor has his client list ever been released.’”

And Barron’s, on July 17, 2019:

“Most day traders and professional money managers underperform the market, and from the only public evidence of his trading, Epstein was as mediocre as the rest.  Whatever else Epstein was, it appears he was no stock-market wizard.”

That Epstein has money is not in debate.  But the source of that money very much is.

I find the suggestion of blackmail totally credible.

#6.  Is there video of Epstein’s “death”?  It’s hard to tell.  The day after, stories ranged from “there were no cameras in his cell” to, “there were cameras, but they malfunctioned” to, “suicide supposedly nearly impossible at ultra-secure Jeffrey Epstein lockup.”

As of today it appears the MCC special housing unit has cameras, but not pointing into inmate cells.

And if a video surfaces of Epstein committing suicide, here’s a reminder of how easy it is to fake that:

Zuckerberg (2)

This “deepfake video” of Mark Zuckerberg posted on Instagram in June showed how easy it is to create them – and how easy it is for people to believe them.

One could argue that any videos of men with Epstein’s alleged victims could be deepfake as well.  But in-depth examination by professionals would distinguish the deepfake from the real.  Deepfake videos can fool the saps who believe everything on social media is true, but not the experts.

#7.  Will Epstein’s family and friends cooperate with this cover-up?  Epstein’s has one sibling, his younger brother Mark, age 64.

Mark epstein cropped
Mark Epstein

Mark is listed on the Board of Directors of The Humpty Dumpty Institute, described on its website as,

“a unique non-profit organization dedicated to tackling difficult global and domestic issues by establishing innovative and strategic public/private partnerships that provide sensible solutions to serious problems.”

The website’s bio on Mark includes this:

“Mr. Epstein decided to semi-retire at age 39 to be able to devote more time to non-profit interests including Cooper Union, The New School Concert Series, the New York String Orchestra Seminar, Ballet Inc., the United Nations and the Humpty Dumpty Institute.”

And yet, this article in the August 13 Daily Beast…

Daily Beast (2)

Describes Mark as “a real estate magnate” and talks about “sizable donations and loans to several prominent nonprofits he worked with,” donating “at least $500,000 to his alma mater, Cooper Union, in 2009,” and,

“Along with his New York City properties, [Mark] Epstein maintains an estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, as well as rental properties in Newburgh, New York, and a home in Pennsylvania.”

How do you “semi-retire” 25 years ago, and do and have all that?

When the Daily Beast contacted him,

“Mark Epstein hung up on a reporter who called for comment and declined to respond to questions sent by text.”

This seems to confirm this headline in the August 12 Wall Street Journal:

Wall Street Journal (2).jpg

And according to CBS This Morning on August 13, 2019

“CBS News has learned that Epstein’s estranged brother Marc was called and he identified Epstein’s body.”

Mark Epstein yacht
Mark Epstein’s donations include this 80-foot yacht, donated to a Charleston marine science group.  The donation was highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal report and at one time listed for sale at $990,000.

“Called and identified” – does that mean he saw the body, or just discussed it over the phone?

I have not seen the CBS statement confirmed in any other coverage.

I’ll suggest Mark would prefer his finances be kept under wraps, and is doing what he’s told.

As for Jeffrey Epstein’s friends, we know Epstein has many associates and attorneys.

But friends?

  • Former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell?  Whereabouts unknown.
  • Longtime business associate Les Wexner?  Said he split ties with Jeffrey Epstein, his former money manager, 12 years ago.
  • Alan Dershowitz – the high-profile attorney who was part of the legal team that negotiated Epstein’s 2007 plea deal – but a friend?
  • Trump, Clinton, Richardson, Mitchell, Dubin, Brunel, Prince Andrew?

No.

If Epstein had any friends, no one is raising their hand at the moment.

#8.  No matter how many alleged victims name names, without evidence it’s still he-said-she-said.  And Epstein has the evidence:  photos and videotapes.  As long as Epstein – and his evidence – are safe, so are the accused.  They’ve no doubt hired high-profile attorneys and will walk away from this.

Epstein_s_body_is_seen_being_carried_from_a_side_door_of_New_Yor-cropped
The body bag in this photo is captioned as “Jeffrey Epstein’s body” – could we see a DNA test?

#9.  Nobody will believe that Epstein isn’t dead.  Everyone is speaking in terms of Epstein being dead:  The president.  Attorney General William Barr.  The Bureau of Prisons.  No one in the media is challenging this.

Except on social media, according to Politifact on August 12:

“Bloggers and Facebookers are saying that Epstein is still alive.

“U.S. corrections officials announced his death.  The New York City medical examiner performed an autopsy.  The U.S. Attorney General, federal prosecutors and an Epstein lawyer have said he is dead.

“To think otherwise requires that scores of officials with direct observation of Epstein’s death are either fooled or complicit.”

This article said “complicit” as though it’s a bad word to our government.

I have a one-word response to that:

Watergate.

And one reminder:

“Then I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”
– Trump, July 23, 2019

Here are my predictions:

  • Epstein’s “apparent suicide” happened on August 10.  After the requisite amount of finger pointing – now including an investigation by the House Judiciary Committee
    El Paso and Dayton shootings
    The tragedies in El Paso and Dayton occurred LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AGO and now they’re barely on the radar.

    – this story will fade.  It’s already dropped from the lead story to #4, or #6 or #7.  Remember the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton?  Those occurred less than two weeks ago, and now – they’re barely on the radar.  The same will happen with the Epstein story.

  • Epstein’s accusers will slog their way through the court system and perhaps get some money from his estate, but will never get the satisfaction of knowing he’s spending the rest of his life in prison.
  • For awhile – but only for awhile – we’ll be left wondering, while we focus on the current headlines:  the mysterious explosion at a Russian offshore military site that involved a missile’s nuclear power source…the Hong Kong protestors…the 2020 election candidates and who said what about or to whom…the stock market…the latest mass shooting…Trump’s offensive and hate-filled tweets.
  • The bits and pieces will continue to trickle out: “Epstein’s body has been claimed by someone described only as an ‘Epstein associate…’” “Autopsy finds broken bones in Jeffrey Epstein’s neck”…“Ghislaine Maxwell was recently living at a secluded mansion in a small New England beach town…”

But will the truth come out?

No.

Which brings us to…

Nine puzzle pieces, with one remaining:

Puzzle (2)

#10.  Where is Jeffrey Epstein?

I’ll simply say:  I don’t know where Jeffrey Epstein is, but he’s probably not in need of the “housing, subsistence for basic living expenses and medical care,” or the “job training and employment assistance” provided by the Witness Protection Program.

The same program in which no one “has been harmed or killed while under the active protection of the U.S. Marshals Service.”

I believe he’s alive, secure in his blackmail strategy, and living well.

Ko Lipe?  Maybe.  Aitutaki?  Possibly.  Definitely not on his private Caribbean island.

But somewhere.

man on beach
We don’t know which tropical beach Epstein in on, but you can bet he’s smiling.